BRIARWOOD, Queens (WABC) -- Officials gathered on Monday with the heartbroken family whose dog was euthanized by ACC in what they say was an abuse of power.
NYC Council member Jim Gennaro has joined the fight about a lost dog euthanized within hours of being found.
The Leon family wants to change how things are done. It is standard to give an animal three days before being put down, but in this case, not even three hours passed.
The family saw that their dog was at the shelter on a lost animals site. They called to say they were coming but then arrived to find 19-year-old Leona had been euthanized.
Leona was older, blind and deaf -- but the family insists she was a happy dog.
"Her old age and the illnesses that came with her old age made her a target," dog owner Juan Leon said.
The dog's owners are convinced it was an abuse of power and a rush to judgment.
After Leona was brought to the city Animal Care Center in Brooklyn, within hours of walking away from her home and being found, she was evaluated by a vet and euthanized.
The family says it happened at the same time the shelter posted her picture on their lost and found site, which is designed to reunite pets with families.
"I thought shelters were a safe haven, and I have a different look at it now and it breaks my heart," owner Ericka Leon said.
The Leon family never wants this to happen to another pet or family.
"Unwarranted and atrocious, nothing like that should befall a family," Gennaro said.
Genaro said changes must happen immediately.
"Once they contacted ACC, they were told the dog has been euthanized, the dog is now dead, this is not how city residents should be treated," he said.
The ACC explained when it happened on March 12 that the dog was at least 15 years old and suffered neurological complications - was blind and deaf - then, in the same medical notes, said there was no trauma or cruelty apparent.
"We want the law to be changed, and we want the rules to be followed by these facilities," said dog owner Vianey Areica.
Gennaro has written a letter to the commissioner who oversees the shelters and is calling for an investigation into why the shelter violated its own policy to wait at least 72 hours.
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